Will US And Canadian Auto Dealers Follow European Lead And Go Small And Digital?

August 17, 2017 by Dave Haynes

Time will tell, but you’ve got to think in North America’s larger cities – where in many cases commercial property costs are steep – that some auto dealers will start following the lead of European automakers who are shifting from large footprint dealerships to small retail settings that lean heavily on digital.

I wrote recently about a new VW concept store in Birmingham, England in a busy mall, and have since stumbled on a new concept store in Germany involving Opel, and an existing, expanding set-up run by Hyundai in the UK that is heavily digital.

The Hyundai set-up – called Rockar – has a similar footprint to, let’s say, a shoe store in a mall. The auto boutique uses in-store, online and mobile platforms, allowing guests to research, book a test drive, obtain a price for their old car, choose a payment option, purchase and organize a service of their car all digitally. The store itself has  26 digital screens that wrap around the space and pull mall-goers in.

The Rockar concept may expand to supermarkets, like Tesco, in the UK – as operators try to be where the people are, while cutting overhead costs.

Rockar seems to be the inspiration for the Opel store in Stuttgart, which appears to have screens. The stories in English don’t say if the big visuals are digital, but the gridlines suggest narrow-bezel video walls.

It makes sense, and maybe it is already happening in Canada and the U.S. The only hint of shopping mall stores like this, that I’ve seen, is Tesla. But buying a Tesla is automatically different from buying a Hyundai or Toyota.

Big opportunity for digital signage here – as things like video walls and other screens that are now seen, often, as part of the decor and showroom sizzle would, in these small format stores, be fundamental parts of the design and service delivery.

  1. Guy Tonti says:

    Our company plays in this space, and the change from the current dealership model in the US to the store model above will take a major change in the franchise model. Changing it is not easy…as Tesla has found in the states where they are not allowed to sell direct.

    The US dealers are financially incentivised to take on as many cars as they can, and the impulse buy based on what the visiting buyer can see, kick the tires on, and then hopefully drive off in, is where the $’s are. That means a showroom that can show as many of those models as possible is where they will continue to invest; make the showroom a destination, not a place to put in an order.

    As a business, we are betting this will increase the need for more of our custom-built TV channels to help make the customer experience better!

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